3 Obstacles Preventing Effective Marketing Automation in Professional Services

By Naomi Oforiokuma, Concep Business Development Manager

No longer just the exclusive of large-scale B2B companies, marketing automation now comes in a wide range of formats with features that promise to transform the client experience, build strong brands and relationships and grow the business. 

Professional Services marketers are naturally being drawn to the many benefits of marketing automation as a way of working smarter and more efficiently, reducing human error and freeing up valuable time so they can do more meaningful activities.

The current landscape for marketing automation solutions has become crowded and complex to navigate. Yet firms are continuing to invest in a diverse range of technologies that are often costly, and typically slow to return benefits. The extent of the problem was highlighted in a recent Concep poll of professional service marketers that revealed that 80% of marketers did not believe they currently had the right automation tools and processes to meet their needs.

Fig. 1

Do you think you have the right automation tools and processes?

The statistic is not surprising. Frequently in professional services, marketing automation platforms are too feature heavy or work outside the context and understanding of a professional services firm.  At the one end, you get ultra- sophisticated predictive email automation platformswhereby pre-determined content goes into a journey based on a high volume of interactions from 1,000s of leads. Hugely powerful in a B2C environment, they often incorporate ad targeting, mobile and social.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, more basic email automation creates simple journeys that lack focus on the priorities of a professional services firm.

To test this, we asked professional services marketers what their top marketing priorities were. 27% said their top priority was ‘nurturing and growing client relationships’. The second priority was revealed as website integration (23%): creating a consistent brand experience & intelligently marrying web activity with their e-communications. Being relevant is also important. Better targeted communications came in third place with 18%, along with the need to ensure events run smoothly and create value for the firm.  Last but not least, building a trusted brand remains an important priority for firms (14%) in this sector.

Fig. 2

.What is your top marketing priority right now?

So why do so few professional services marketers believe they have what they need to implement automation? What is preventing firms from using automation effectively?

 Here are the 3 top obstacles:

 #1 Technology systems do not connect.

An overwhelming 53% of marketers surveyed agreed that a lack of integration between different systems currently prevent them from implementing automated workflows and processes. Particularly if working with CRM system, being able to work seamlessly and without duplication or additional manual tasks is a major obstacle to automation. As firms start to use more new technologies to run their businesses, connectivity is critical to efficiency.  Having a ‘single source of truth’ and being able to surface insights from multiple sources and provide a 360-degree view of the relationship as seen by all parts of the firm means having systems that connect to each other.   

#2 Lack of internal skills and knowledge

 Almost 20% of marketers in the poll believed that they were not using automation effectively because they didn’t know how to.  All too often tech vendors will be hands on in delivering the technology but don’t provide adequate training and support in the months after implementation to ensure the technology is being used effectively by the people who need to use it. It’s the reason Concep has developed 6 Pillars of Client Support and free ongoing training webinars to support our platform’s user community.

 #3  Current technology does not have the capabilities needed.

24% said that there was a mismatch between the technology they had and what they needed it to do. 6% of respondents believed their current technology was too complex for their needs. The “goldilocks effect” in automation is critical: technology capability has to be “just right” for what marketers are trying to achieve and support the firm’s marketing activities.  No more and no less. The technology has to facilitate and augment the benefits with the focus on the right priorities.

Fig. 3

What is your main obstacle to implementing automation?

It’s why Concep, based on a deep understanding of the sector, has been able to hone its professional services marketing automation towards supporting engagement and other sector-specific objectives. We’ve taken a3-pronged approach including reactive automation– ideal for timely distribution of web content; action-led automation which enables sector-specific workflows for events and sequence automation which facilitates intelligent engagement journeys based on a contact’s interests or needs. These are sufficient to cover the goals of a professional services firm. It’s simple and highly effective and allows firms to:

  • Deliver relevant timely content to their contacts
  • Nurture and grow relationships
  • Manage events seamlessly and efficiently
  • Save up to 1/3 of their time*so they can re-invest in value-added activities
  • Avoid over-investment in systems that don’t do what they need

To find out more, download our webinar: Finding the Perfect Fit for Automation in Professional Services or get in touch to talk about how you can automate marketing in your firm.

*based on a Concep client example

Source: Results from Concep Webinar Attendee Poll - July 2019